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Schools: Don't Work With Law-Breaking Slaughterhouses!

Remember when PETA caught a slaughterhouse in Mississippi—Southern Quality Meats, Inc. (SQM)—jabbing and electro-shocking helpless mother pigs? Well, SQM is now closing! Learn more here.

In 2013, a whistleblower recorded terrified mother pigs' final moments inside SQM, a Pontotoc, Mississippi, slaughterhouse.

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has awarded contracts worth more than $6 million in taxpayer funds to SQM to supply sausage to Mississippi schools, many of which have meal programs supplemented with federal funds.

PETA learned from an Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) official that Alabama schools also served schoolchildren the flesh of pigs slaughtered at SQM—despite the fact that Alabama's state superintendent of education, Dr. Thomas R. Bice, was well aware of SQM's inhumane conduct.

The footage shows one SQM worker jabbing pigs with electric prongs, normally used to stun the animals with an electrical current prior to slitting their throats, and even using the prongs on one apparently stunned mother pig's lower abdomen and/or genitals for no apparent reason.

As this worker jabbed pigs, some vocalized in distress before they were rendered insensible and hung upside down by one leg to have their throats slit—while other pigs watched just a few feet away.

Even then-SQM President B. Don Haynie Sr. admitted that the video showed "improper stunning techniques" and at least "two instances in which [a pig] was not rendered unconscious on the first stun."

And that was just the suffering that was caught on video. The whistleblower also saw SQM workers beat downed mother pigs on the face and head with chains, drag them to the kill floor—a deafeningly loud area filled with the smell of death—and electro-shock and jab injured sows for up to 30 minutes.

By the time they arrive at slaughterhouses such as SQM, most sows have already endured a lifetime of suffering. These playful, sensitive animals, whom animal behaviorists consider to be smarter than 3-year-old children, typically spend their lives crammed inside filthy sheds, where they are denied all that is natural, meaningful, and important to them.

Mother pigs like those slaughtered at SQM are artificially impregnated again and again and typically spend months in gestation crates too small for them even to turn around in, only to be prodded into another crate after they give birth and then have their piglets torn away from them after just a few weeks.

When their bodies are finally worn out, these pigs are typically crammed into a truck to endure a frightening trip for many miles through all weather extremes. According to industry reports, hundreds of thousands of pigs are crippled upon arriving at slaughterhouses each year.

After a July 2013 investigation following PETA's complaint, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) confirmed "inhumane handling" of mother pigs at SQM, in violation of the federal Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act (HMSA). Learn more here.

FSIS records released in October 2013 show that SQM knew of its animal-handling problems for months. Learn more here.

SQM may be closing, but other pigs are still suffering. Please speak up for these pigs and other animals slaughtered for their flesh.

PETA had previously alerted Mississippi State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright and ALSDE’s June Barrett, program coordinator for child nutrition programs, to the mistreatment of pigs recorded at SQM and FSIS’ findings and asked both school chiefs to stop using taxpayer dollars to fund a slaughterhouse caught ineffectively stunning pigs in their final, terrifying moments in violation of federal law.

Please urge Dr. Wright and Ms. Barrett to pledge, on behalf of their departments, never again to contract with any slaughterhouse found to have violated the HMSA or broken any other animal protection laws.

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